OpinionLegal View

Farm Reforms, protests and Khalistani angle

Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) is a marketing board established which was established so to safeguard farmers from exploitation by large retailers. It also had a goal to regulate the retail price of the crops. APMC mandated farmers to sell their products at Mandis however with the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, Modi government opened another channel and allowed farmer’s to sell their crops/products outside Mandis. This was mainly to curb the issues of farmers and to double their income by 2022 as promised by Modi Government.

Farmers, mostly from Punjab are protesting in Delhi against the Farm reforms introduced by the Government. The concern of farmers protesting is that once the APMC Mandi get redundant, whole infrastructure in place will fall. Due to this, the farmers protesting are seeking statutory protection in the law.

Though government has clarified that there will be no change in MSP and procurement guarantee after new farm laws, their concern is about the absence of this provision in writing.

However, what they fail to understand is that Food Corporation of India (FCI) could procure directly from the farmers after the reforms and that anymore layer won’t be helpful. I’ve previously written that MSP is an administrative action and putting it into law is not the norm. Even the existing law doesn’t mention MSP anywhere yet is available to farmers wherever Government feels the requirement. Good thing with the reform is that it has now allowed the private players along with Mandis.

Reforms are beneficial to the farmers which could be understood by the fact that in this season, Punjab Government procured Paddy from farmers at around Rs 1800/quintal whereas private traders in Bihar & UP procured the same paddy for Rs 800 to 1200/quintal. This difference is because of the fact that there is lack of infrastructure for public procurement in states like Bihar and UP and farmers from these states had to rely on the traders of Punjab. This barrier has ended now.

Any reform require a much larger public awareness. Government probably has failed to communicate with thw farmers which has led to such a chaos in Delhi which is already the hub of ongoing pandemic. Clarification came much later after Prime Minister Modi in his address to nation through his flagship Mann ki Baat has said that

Parliament has recently passed farm reform laws after rigorous brainstorming. These reforms have not only broken shackles of farmers but have also given new rights and opportunities to them.”

While giving an example, PM said,

“You should know how Jitendra Bhoiji, a farmer in Dhule, Maharashtra used these new farms laws. He produced maize & decided to sell it to traders at the right price. The total amount agreed at was around Rs 3.32 lakhs. He got Rs 25,000 in advance. It was agreed that he will get remaining amount in 15 days but he didn’t get the payment. Under the new law, it’s mandatory to pay within 3 days. If payment is not made, farmer can lodge complaint. He filed complaint & got his dues within few days. Whatever may be the field, the correct knowledge is an added strength for everyone.”

 

Important thing here is to understand that these protests are mostly led by farmers from Punjab who are protesting against a law which is not applicable to their state. Also their protests are related to a matters which are not covered by the new act at all. Farmers protesting are mainly demanding MSP and seeking a statutory provisions for the same, however it has not been cancelled in the first place. In fact, MSP this year has been marginally higher as compared to previous years which has benefited farmers largely from Punjab and Haryana. New law doesn’t touch this topic at all.

 

However the way these protests are going and the narrative it is picking up must be checked. Slogans such as

We won’t say Bharat Mata ki Jai and Jai Hind. We will only say slogans of Muslims, Sikhs & Christians”

It clearly shows that Khalistani supporters have got into this matter and are involved in inciting the farmers against the Hindus.

Another slogan is

Imran Khan humara bhai hai, dushman humara Dilli betha hai”

It has restarted the narrative led by Bhindranwale who sought Pakistan’s support to spread Terrorísm so to divide India again on the line of religion.

 

Another disturbing slogans include,

“Modi teri kabar khudegi”

“Indira thok di, Modi ki chatti pe”

These slongans proves the point that Khalistanis infiltrated the ongoing farmers’ protest and Government must keep an eye on it.

To read more about the new farm laws,

What 1970 did for milk & 1991 did for industries, 2020 will do for agriculture

Author: Adv. Shashank Shekhar Jha
Legal Editor, GoaChronicle.com

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